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On behalf of all childcare professionals, whether working in a centre or in a home-based setting, we would like to take issue with comments made by Claire O’Sullivan (Nov 17, Irish Examiner).
Ms O’Sullivan states that if she had another child she would not send it to a crèche for childcare but to a childminder. Her reason for choosing a childminder, over centre-based care when it was for her children, was not to do with the level of care, but the cost. She states that the exorbitant cost of centre-based care is due to the high staff levels required by the HSE.
We would like to point out that the high price parents pay for childcare is due to the lack of government subsidies. The cost of providing a childcare place in Ireland is far lower than in most other European countries, the difference being that here, parents are expected to cover all or almost all of that cost.
Ms O’Sullivan suggests that a childminder goes about her daily business whilst looking after the child. Childcare professionals plan the activities they undertake with the children to ensure they are receiving both care and education — this happens regardless of the setting, centre-based or family home.
‘New parents often fixate on the formal benefits of structured childcare but to be honest, much of it is baloney.’ It is a shame Ms O’Sullivan chooses to dismiss decades of research into the immediate and life-long lasting benefits of high quality pre-school care and education as ‘baloney’. Benefits which include better school achievement, better job prospects and higher average wage earning.
Professional childminders do not ‘plonk’ the child in front of ‘Bob the Builder for half of the day’ or even for an ‘hour or two’. Far from it not harming children, Ms O’Sullivan would do well to remember what she wrote for this paper previously in respect of the Growing up in Ireland study: “. . . international research which suggests that prolonged screen time can affect child development, even when the content is suitable for young children ...”
Ms O’Sullivan writes: “with a good childminder your child will not be part of a management system or a timetable”.
We would like to emphasise that with a good childcare professional, in a centre or in home-based care, your child will be in an environment where their learning curiosity is followed, extended and where they are cared for and educated as appropriate to their individual level of development. What is wrong with that?
Coordinator Cork County Childcare Committee
Buttevant, Co Cork
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